Against the Flow is a new blog that will deal with serious and difficult topics, and occasionally with softer subjects too. It will side with politics that strives to do the right thing, as opposed to favouring quick and easy answers. Rather than practising mere public relations, it will encourage journalism that seeks the truth and explores what is really going on in the community. It will praise political leaders who take responsibility for their words, actions and mistakes. It will show respect for First Nations peoples for their great strengths and for the many injustices they are overcoming. It will salute those who recognize that our planet is both burning up and drowning due to climate change and undertake to fight on behalf of Planet Earth.
The other day in the crush and bewilderment that many of us feel about the terrible situation in the Middle East, I remembered a story aired on CBC Television several years ago about the friendship of two men, Moshe and Munir, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian. The journalist who brought her report to Canadians was Adrienne Arsenault, then the Middle East correspondent for the CBC and now one of the hosts of The National and the Chief Correspondent for the network.
It was an amazing piece of journalism which made a deep impression on me. Although, I have never been to the Middle East, I have always been concerned about the millions of Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust and, as well, the plight of the homeless Palestinians in the disputed lands in and around what is now Israel.
When I launched this Blog, I promised that it would not always be about hard and difficult subjects. Occasionally, I would write about other topics that are softer and gentler. Lately, I have been writing about tough things, such as war, addictions, and sports betting. Today, I offer readers an article that could be called “and now, for something completely different.”
This is about my special relationship with our dog Lupin. She is a gentle and friendly yellow Labrador who, through some sort of wires crossed genetics, speaks human and I speak dog.
When we finish a walk together at our front door, she waits faithfully for my rendition of a simple little ditty which I sing in my off-key baritone: “Were you ever in Quebec, donkey riding, donkey riding, were you ever in Quebec, riding on a donkey?” This was a song I used to sing to our kids when they were little, balancing them on my leg, and increasing the bounces, faster and faster.
With her amazing linguistic ability, Lupin adopted this song as her mantra. It became a kindly command to come into the house. Now, she waits outside the door until she hears her song. When Lupin will not move at the front door, my dear wife says to me: “Can you call Lupin?” I begin that favorite song and in Lupin comes.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s Medical Officer of Health did not distinguish herself before the province’s Public Accounts committee on Thursday and the government of Premier Blaine Higgs does not deserve praise for its public health print-out either.
In his early days as Premier, Mr. Higgs treated “politics” as a dirty word, something he would not soil his hands with. But in his handling of the COVID pandemic, the Premier has acted in a highly “political” way, demonstrating that he did not want the Medical Officer of a Health making decisions about how to protect public health in the province.
The classic example of this occurred in the summer of 2021 when the government lifted all protective measures against COVID 19. This action was widely viewed as premature, and likely to expose the province to further public health dangers. Today, COVID is bursting out again, and New Brunswick's COVID-19 hazard index is the highest in Canada, according to a recent study by a respected researcher.
It is completely understandable why Jews and Israelis are extremely nervous and frightened about their safety in the world right now.
With the Holocaust, 6-million Jews were victims of the most horrendous and calculated crime against humanity in the history of the world. Jews and non-Jews alike who visit Nazi extermination camps come away shaken and outraged, marked for life by the experience.
As November 11 approaches, we are also reminded of the 100,000 Canadian and Newfoundland soldiers killed or wounded fighting Nazi Germany in World War Two. Still, along with many countries, Canada shares in the guilt for allowing some of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis to escape after the war, full responsibility for the Holocaust.
As a result of the Holocaust, the Jewish people have the absolute moral and political right to safety and security within Israel and around the world, and they have the right to defend themselves.
Earlier this month, with the horrific slaughter by Hamas fighters of Israelis within the boundaries of Israel, memories of the Holocaust are rekindled for Jews all over the world.
The Higgs government of New Brunswick has put off for now its lurching ride toward an election. Part of the guessing game for citizens has been what Higgs saw as his government’s unifying Throne Speech on Oct. 17.
Yet hidden in the soft tones of the Throne Speech is an unfortunate approach to the problem which New Brunswick and all other provinces have, that of addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.
Concerning addiction, the Throne Speech says the government “will empower judges and hearing officers to order treatment for Severe Substance Abuse Disorder through the new Compassionate Intervention Act. This legislation is to help, in extreme cases, those individuals who are struggling with addiction and unable to meet their own basic needs.”
This is what William Shakespeare, in his famous play Romeo and Juliet called a “Rose by Any Other Name.” What Shakespeare was saying in simple terms, is that we cannot change the essence of things, just by dressing them up with pretty words.
So, in calling this new legislation the “Compassionate Intervention Act” the government is just using comforting words for saying that addicts will be forced against their will to receive corrective treatment.
When I was a kid we played a lot of pond hockey, and all the young players identified with a particular NHL hockey hero. We wore our favorite player’s jersey number on our backs. In my case it was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Dave Keon, number 14, the winner with his team of four Stanley Cups. Call me nostalgic, but on the pond, we sharpened our skills and learned to skate like the wind.
Today, kids’ adoration of sports heroes and the glory of sport may not be quite as pure. The NHL season is now underway, and as we speak, youth are being lured into betting on sports, by of all people, their hockey idols.
This would be bad enough for our national sport, but this betting is doing much more harm because of the phenomenon of “push betting.” If a youth (or an adult) places a bet on a particular game, the bettor is texted by a representative of a sports betting company and urged to bet still more, given the score of the game thus far.